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Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

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FOR THE LEXICON

Refute+repudiate=word-of-the year. Sarah Palin’s oft lampooned mingling of the two terms has been named the “2010 Word of the Year” by the New Oxford American Dictionary - besting such rivals as “tea party”, “retweet” and “vuvuzela”. The scholars note: “From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used ‘refudiate,’ we have concluded that neither ‘refute’ nor ‘repudiate’ seems consistently precise, and that ‘refudiate’ more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of ‘reject’.”

HAPPY LANDINGS

What with all that press chatter about “naked scanners”, “groin checks” and “government gropers” in the nation’s airports, a skittish American public must parse the line between security and privacy in age of terrorism and political correctness. Though Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman plans a hearing on air-cargo security Tuesday, observers say the Connecticut Independent likely will broach the truly touchy passenger side of things as well.

But wait. Coming soon to an airport near you, it’s National Opt Out of the Airport Scanners Day. The Philadelphia-based grassroots group We Won’t Fly is organizing “mass x-ray scanner opt outs” at the nation’s airports on November 24 to draw attention to reported health and privacy dangers of the Transportation Security Administration’s advanced, full body scanners. Yes, the boycott is scheduled the day before Thansgiving.

“Not only are these porno scanners a gross violation of individual privacy, they’re also a threat to the health of millions of passengers, and ineffective as well. The goal of the demonstrations is to urge Americans to exercise their legal right to ‘opt out’ of the scan,” says the group’s co-founder George Donnelly.

The TSA insists all is well, though. The scanners have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. TSA director Janet Napolitano - frequently catagorized as “Big Sis” on the Drudge Report - said Monday that the agency is “doing what we need to do to protect the traveling public.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Airline Pilots Assoc., the Allied Pilots Association, Ralph Nader and the Electronic Privacy Information Center have mounted protests against the security practices, along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has issued its own travel advisory over “invasive and humiliating” pat downs. The group is advising Muslim women in headscarf and traditional modest dress to “remind TSA officers that they are only supposed to pat down the area in question, in this scenario, your head and neck. They should not subject you to a full-body or partial-body pat-down.”

CLINTOPIA

Yeah, well, maybe beleagured Mel Gibson didn’t get to make a modest film comeback with a cameo appearance on “The Hangover II”. But former President Bill Clinton? He was in Bangkok just 48 hours ago, on the set of the party hearty sequel to the buddy movie “The Hangover”, dressed in light blue golf shirt and khaki pants, his thespian aspirations intact, apparently.

“Bubba was spotted on the set in Thailand where we’re told extra security was added for his presence,” says TMZ, the video gossip group that first reported the phenomenon. “Although some people associated with the flick have told us Bill just ‘hung out,’ we’ve now confirmed he did indeed shoot a cameo.”

Mr. Clinton was in Bangkok to attend a clean energy convention. He will, uh, “play himself” in the film.

DUCK TAPE

Behold, some lame duck headlines. Here’s how Congress’ big adventures with earmarks, tax cuts and reshuffling the political deck played in the press on Day One:

“Obama is in danger of becoming a lame duck” (The Daily Telegraph)

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